Many stories I read are good, solid stories, but lack emotional content and impact. At my writing group yesterday, three of the stories being reviewed fell into this category – one was a non-fiction textbook excerpt (the author was very angry about how the current system worked, but her passion did not come through in her writing, which was very technical and flat), one was sci-fi (the writer head-hopped and never dwelled long enough with one character to explore his or her emotions), and one was historical fiction (good characters, but never reveals their inner thoughts and feelings). One of the members of the group mentioned that when she was working on her degree in English many decades ago, she broke through the emotion “barrier” in her writing, and she suggested that writers could use an “emotion thesaurus” to help get them started.
Since I do find myself citing the same pounding heart and sweaty palms a bit too often, my ears perked up when she mentioned this. I did a search online, and although there are ones you can purchase (who knew!), I did find a really simple free pdf file that might help some readers. This is just a cheat sheet, not intended to replace a writer’s own imagination and interpretation of how a character responds to a situation – so don’t make too much of this. Writers (IMO) should dig into themselves to find what angers them, what makes them happy, what stresses them, etc., and think about how their own body reacts to these emotions.
Some other emotion resources I found interesting:
Emotion color wheel: www.do2learn.com/organizationtools/EmotionsColorWheel/index.htm
Emotion adjectives: aliciateacher2.wordpress.com/grammar/adjectives/
Where the body feels emotions: www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/03/body-emotions-finnish-study-video_n_4532617.html